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Trump escalates his January 6 cover-up as political comeback steps up a gear – CNN

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(CNN)Donald Trump is acting like an ex-President with a constitutional crime to hide as the cover-up of his assault on democracy gathers pace alongside his political comeback.

The twice-impeached 45th President’s continuing influence on politics, popular culture and national life is broadening on multiple fronts and appears undimmed by his ban from social media platforms. His behavior is mirroring the conduct he showed in office: a driving desire to avoid accountability, a challenge to the US system of checks and balances, a willingness to exploit racial and cultural divides, and an eye for a political opening that could boost his own profile, like an apparent tele-rally on the eve of Virginia’s gubernatorial election. The high-stakes election in a state Trump lost by 10 points last year will be closely watched as an indicator of the political environment heading into the 2022 midterms.
A just-revealed list of documents that Trump wishes to prevent the House select committee probing January 6 from seeing — and over which President Joe Biden has refused to assert executive privilege — in itself offers a darkly suggestive picture of Trump’s activities leading up to the mob attack by his supporters on the US Capitol.
If the committee gets its hands on call logs, memos from senior White House staff and entries from the then-President’s schedule, it will be able to create a much fuller picture than is already known about how far Trump directed events, the depth of his effort to steal the election from Biden and how little he did to stop the January 6 riot once it started.
“In 2021, for the first time since the Civil War, the Nation did not experience a peaceful transfer of power,” the House Committee wrote. “The Select Committee has reasonably concluded that it needs the documents of the then-President who helped foment the breakdown in the rule of law. … It is difficult to imagine a more critical subject for Congressional investigation.”
While Trump perpetually tries to evade the consequences of his actions, his latest campaign of obstruction is closely linked with his increasing political activity heading into the midterm elections and a possible 2024 presidential campaign. If the committee were to produce a damning report of Trump’s conduct, it would form a powerful public record of an attempt by an ex-President to destroy America’s democratic heritage as he apparently seeks the office again. There is every reason to believe that in a new White House term, and feeling validated, Trump would pose an even greater threat to democratic governance.

Hiding the truth of January 6

The lengths to which Trump is prepared to go to prevent Americans from learning the full truth about the Capitol insurrection came to light in late night court filings on Friday and early Saturday. The National Archives for the first time revealed details in a sworn declaration about the trove of documents Trump wants kept secret.
Among the 700 pages of documents are handwritten memos from then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, logs of calls by the then-President and then-Vice President Mike Pence and White House visitor records.
In the Meadows documents alone, there are three handwritten notes about the events of January 6 and two pages listing briefings and telephone calls about the Electoral College certification, the archivist said.
The papers could also shed new light on the role of conservative lawyer John Eastman, who drafted a six-step plan for how Pence could have certified the election in favor of Trump, rather than the rightful winner on January 6.
Eastman proposed Pence throwing out the votes of enough states that Biden won so that the presidential election would be decided by the House, where each state gets a single vote and Republicans controlled more state delegations.
Eastman said on former White House official Steve Bannon’s radio show in January that Pence could pull it off if he had the “courage and the spine” to do so, according to comments unearthed by CNN’s KFile. CNN reported last week that the January 6 committee would subpoena Eastman if he did not cooperate.
The conservative lawyer’s blueprint, which has been derided by many scholars but appears to have been taken seriously by Trump, has prompted some members of the January 6 committee to draft new legislation to head off such schemes in the future. The proposal could offer more specific instructions for when Congress can overturn a state’s slate of electors, and more clearly define the role the vice president plays in counting the votes, CNN’s Jeremy Herb and Pamela Brown reported. Drafting a law would also provide the committee with a “legislative purpose,” that could potentially strengthen its case — both against Trump’s sweeping executive privilege assertions and against Bannon, who has already been cited for criminal contempt of Congress for ignoring a subpoena and could be prosecuted by the Justice Department.

‘It’s just me and Liz Cheney’

The concept of executive privilege is meant to provide presidents a guarantee that they can receive confidential advice on matters of state from senior officials. However, Trump appears to be using the doctrine to cover-up details of his own role in trying to stage a coup, so the claim that he is seeking to protect the office of the presidency itself rings rather hollow. But even if the House select committee does draft legislation, its prospects are uncertain. It could potentially pass the Democratic-led House, but its chances of surviving a likely GOP filibuster in the Senate — where only seven Republican senators voted to convict Trump in his second impeachment trial over January 6 — appear slim.
Such GOP appeasement of Trump’s autocratic instincts was cited on Sunday by Illinois Rep. Adam Kinzinger — a rare Republican critic of Trump and one of just two Republicans on the January 6 committee — as one of the reasons why he decided not to run for reelection.
“You ultimately come to the realization that basically it’s me, Liz Cheney, and a few others that are telling the truth, and they’re about 190 people in the Republican Party that aren’t going to say a word,” Kinzinger said on ABC’s “This Week.”
“And there’s a leader of the Republican caucus that is embracing Donald Trump with all he can,” Kinzinger said, referring to House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, who has anchored his party’s hopes of winning back the House next year and becoming speaker, on Trump.

Trump’s influence is everywhere

The latest developments in the January 6 investigation were not the weekend’s only indicators of Trump’s hold over his party and the influence his tumultuous time in the Oval Office still holds over the country.
He is apparently planning to vault himself on Monday into the Virginia governor’s race with a tele-rally on behalf of Republican candidate Glenn Youngkin, who has run a well-pitched campaign that all but ignores the ex-President while sending coded cultural and racial messages to his supporters. Youngkin hopes to make gains in the critical suburban areas around Washington, DC, where Trump is held in disdain. Trump’s maneuver appears to be a naked attempt to claim credit if Youngkin wins a neck-and-neck race in a state where Biden trounced the ex-President. But it might just give Democratic candidate Terry McAuliffe — who has had limited success with painting his rival as a Trump clone — an election eve boost.
“Trump wants to win here so he can announce for president for 2024. That’s the stakes of this election,” McAuliffe told supporters on Sunday. If McAuliffe — who served a previous term as governor — squeezes out a victory Tuesday, it might suggest that Trump remains a drag on swing state GOP candidates, even out of office. But Trump is likely to use a victory for Youngkin to bolster his false claims that vote counts in last year’s elections were tampered with and that he really won in states he easily lost.
In a new sign that his return to front-line politics is accelerating, Trump showed up in Atlanta on Saturday night for Game 4 of the World Series and, with the former first lady by his side, relished taking part in the controversial “Tomahawk chop” — a chant and gesture that is a longtime tradition at Braves games but has also been criticized as racist and offensive to Native Americans. Trump’s visit, alongside his personally recruited Georgia senate candidate Herschel Walker, underscored his willingness to embrace politically incorrect causes to send cultural signals to his base — a technique that is at the center of his political appeal.
His visit to the state also brought a reminder of some of his most notorious efforts to steal the 2020 election, including his January 2 call to Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger, a Republican, who disclosed on Sunday that he felt threatened by Trump’s pressure to find votes that would overturn his narrow loss in the state to Biden.
“And so you run down every single rabbit trail, none of it ever was supported by the facts. And so I was never concerned from the standpoint of that, but I heard the threat that he was making,” Raffensperger said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” Sunday.
The ex-President’s influence also hung over the G20 summit in Europe as foreign nations wonder how long Biden’s “America is Back” mantra will last if Trump runs for president in 2024. The current President on Sunday warned the world is “continuing to suffer from the very bad decisions President Trump made to pull out of” the Iran nuclear deal. Biden has struggled to get the Islamic Republic back to the negotiating table and the US now appears on the edge of another serious escalation with Tehran.

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Now, more than ever, the N.W.T. government needs party politics – CBC.ca

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This column is an opinion by former Yellowknife MLA Kieron Testart. For more information about CBC’s Opinion section, please see the FAQ.

In 2019 near the end of my term as an MLA, I proposed implementing a caucus system that, among other things, would allow for political discipline of MLAs. At the time MLAs rejected any changes that would limit their jealously-guarded independence. What they failed to recognize was that this proposal was not about imposing discipline, rather it was about enabling politicians to effectively discipline MLAs when required. 

The Norn affair and the pronounced lack of any real accountability in the legislature over the government’s failings are the consequences of being governed by a gang of loosely aligned political independents who lack common vision and leadership.

This point was made by MLA Rylund Johnson who said, “In party systems, the party whip would probably make sure this never happens. Party caucuses would kick members out and make them irrelevant …Those aren’t tools that we have in consensus government.”

The consensus system is based on little more than good intentions and is powerless to address its own failings, with MLAs routinely using their constituents as a convenient smoke screen for their own bad behaviour. 

Sound familiar? It should, it happens all the time with the recent example of Steve Norn being the most spectacular failure of political will to date in the 19th Assembly.

Norn’s sustained attacks on his colleagues and the legislature were left virtually unchecked by MLAs, who stood by silently. Public confidence in elected officials has been shaken to the point that two former premiers have taken the extraordinary step of publicly criticizing sitting MLAs. Scandal and policy failures have become the chief commodity of the Legislative Assembly and Caroline Cochrane’s government.

While other provinces acted swiftly with new spending and policies to bolster their economies and attract new health-care workers, the Cochrane government has wrung its hands, paralyzed by bureaucratic inertia. We have watched in real time as our health-care system has buckled and broken under the strain of the pandemic, with no plan yet released for economic recovery after months and months of delay. And despite the outcry from Northerners for their government to act, the “unofficial opposition” of regular MLAs is absent, or at least silent, unable to muster the courage and unify to demand better government from the cabinet. 

In the Northwest Territories the people have a choice in who gets to take power but not in how that power is used, nor can they hold the powerful accountable during elections. MLAs appoint the premier and cabinet, who are solely accountable to each other. This means that voters have no say over who forms government or what that government does for its four-year term and cannot hold that government accountable for its decisions. This leaves accountability in the hands of an undisciplined committee of regular MLAs who lack resources, staff, and experience to provide alternatives to cabinet policies. Public policy development and implementation are the sole domain of unelected bureaucrats in the government’s senior management.

Despite the constant mythologizing of consensus government as a superior form of government, founded in the traditions of Indigenous Peoples, the fact is none of the N.W.T.’s self-governing Indigenous nations use consensus systems, nor did Indigenous people design the system when it was first implemented decades ago. That honour falls to federal bureaucrats when they devolved responsible government to our young territory. Despite their frustration, Northerners continue to consent to an undemocratic democracy where their electoral choices have been reduced to little more than an overblown hiring competition. 

A culture of silence has taken root in the N.W.T.’s democratic discourse. The fear of reprisal from those in power forces many to whisper in the back of coffee shops and speak anonymously to reporters, when they ought to be able to freely express their own views and see those views transformed into political action.

There was a time that the consensus system served Northerners well. But that time has passed, made clear by persistent scandal and public policy implosions that have not stopped since the last election. We’ve seen devolution create a modern N.W.T. granted nearly full responsibility over its land and resources. It is now time for evolution to transform our political system into a modern multi-party democracy that can provide unity and real action on the most pressing issues.

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Italy, France to deepen ties as Merkel’s exit tests European diplomacy

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The leaders of Italy and France will sign a treaty on Friday to strengthen bilateral ties at a time when European diplomacy is being tested by the departure of German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

The Quirinale Treaty is aimed at enhancing cooperation between Paris and Rome in areas including defence, migration, the economy, culture and trade.

The signing ceremony comes shortly after a new coalition pact was agreed in Germany, ending 16 years of rule by Merkel, who was the undisputed leader of Europe and forged especially close ties with successive French leaders.

The new Berlin administration is expected to be more inward looking, especially at the start of its mandate, and both Paris and Rome are keen to deepen relations in a period clouded by economic uncertainty, the pandemic, a more assertive Russia, a rising China and a more disengaged United States.

“Macron’s intention is to create a new axis with Italy, while it is in Italy’s interest to hook up with the France-Germany duo,” said a senior Italian diplomatic source, who declined to be named.

RENAISSANCE

Originally envisaged in 2017, negotiations on the new treaty ground to a halt in 2018 when a populist government took office in Rome and clashed with Macron over immigration.

Relations hit a low in 2019 when Macron briefly recalled France’s ambassador to Italy, but there has been a renaissance this year following the appointment of former European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi to lead an Italian unity government.

A French diplomatic source rejected suggestions that the new axis between the European Union’s second and third largest economies represented any re-alignment of Paris’s diplomatic priorities.

“We have never played a jealousy triangle with European partners. These bilateral relations, when they are strong … complement each other,” the source said.

The Quirinale Treaty, named after the Italian president’s residence and loosely modelled on a 1963 Franco-German pact, is expected to lead to Paris and Rome seeking common ground ahead of EU summits, just as France already coordinates key European policy moves with Germany.

Full details of the pact have not been released but there will be special interest in sections covering economic ties and cooperation in strategic sectors.

French companies have invested heavily in Italy in recent years, but Italian politicians have accused Paris of being less forthcoming when Italian businesses seek cross-border deals.

Earlier this year, state-owned shipmaker Fincantieri’s bid to take over its French peer Chantiers de l’Atlantique collapsed, thwarted by EU competition issues.

Italian officials suspected Paris actively sought to undermine the deal behind the scenes.

 

(Editing by Gareth Jones)

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Kyle Rittenhouse, Who Doesn’t “Want to Get Involved in Politics,” Turns to Tucker Carlson and Donald Trump – Vanity Fair

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The 18-year-old met with the former president—who calls Rittenhouse a “fan” of his—after sitting down with the right-wing cable host and letting a film crew in for a Fox Nation documentary. 

November 24, 2021

In the early goings of the Kyle Rittenhouse homicide proceedings, Judge Bruce Schroeder told attorneys that the case would focus narrowly on the facts and the law. “This is not a political trial,” he said in September. “This is not going to be a political trial.” That was obviously never going to be possible—especially not in a case in which an armed minor, who claims to have been helping protect private property during racial justice protests in a city he didn’t live in, fatally shot two men and wounded a third. 

But Schroeder wasn’t actually cautioning lawyers to leave politics at the door as much as he was warning them to leave their politics at the door—the kind of politics that would, say, regard the men Rittenhouse shot and killed in Kenosha last year as “victims.” Indeed, a great deal of politics was permitted in the case, both inside the courtroom and out: The Rittenhouse team was allowed to describe those killed as “rioters” and “looters,” jurors were encouraged to applaud a defense witness because he happened to be a veteran, and the teen’s mother appeared on Sean Hannity’s Fox News program to defend her son ahead of the verdict. She also defended Schroeder in that interview: The judge was “very fair,” she said, and “doesn’t allow nonsense” in the courtroom.

That Schroeder’s court also apparently regarded one kind of politics as neutrality and another as “nonsense” is, of course, an example of the very bias in the legal system that critics have lamented in the wake of Rittenhouse’s acquittal. Insisting something isn’t political in nature doesn’t make it so. But Rittenhouse has continued to do so in his post-trial media tour. Speaking to Ashleigh Banfield in a NewsNation interview Tuesday, the 18-year-old said that he did not “want to get involved in politics at all” and that his case was only about the right to self-defense—“not where you fall, left or right.”

“I’m not a cause person,” Rittenhouse told Banfield. “I’m just a person who was attacked and defended myself.”

But while he may not be accepting any of those internship offers from Matt Gaetz and other right-wing lawmakers trying to out-crazy one another, Rittenhouse hasn’t actually divorced himself from the politics of his case. Before he spoke with Banfield, he sat down for a fawning interview with Tucker Carlson, who had a film crew embedded with Rittenhouse and his defense during the trial for an upcoming documentary on Fox Nation.  And, after talking to Carlson, he and his mother went down to Mar-a-Lago to visit Donald Trump, who posed for one of his traditional thumbs-up photos with the smiling teen. (The photo-op, weirdly, took place in front of a photo of the former president meeting Kim Jong Un.) “Really a nice young man,” the former president said of Rittenhouse in an interview Tuesday with Hannity. “What he went through…that was prosecutorial misconduct.”

“Just left Mar-a-Lago a little while ago,” Trump said, describing Rittenhouse as a “fan” of his. “He never should have been put through that,” the former president said. “That was prosecutorial misconduct, and it’s happening all over the United States right now with the Democrats.”

Trump in 2020 described the riots, which grew out of protests over the shooting of Jacob Blake by a white police officer, as “anti-American” acts of “domestic terror.” He also defended Rittenhouse at the time while decrying the violence in “Democrat cities.” Last week, after Rittenhouse was found not guilty on all counts, Trump cheered not only the verdicts, but the teen’s actions: “If that’s not self-defense, nothing is!” he wrote.

Rittenhouse is claiming he has nothing to do with politics, that he resists being made a conservative icon, that he’s “not a racist person” and actually supports Black Lives Matter, that he’s “not a cause person” at all—while simultaneously rubbing elbows with people like Carlson and Trump, two of the most prominent figures who have cast him as a folk hero in their culture war. He may not fit as neatly into that role as some on the right may like—he has apparently run afoul of some in the QAnon cult over calling his former attorney, Lin Wood, “insane”—but he hasn’t exactly distanced himself from it, either. Instead, he has seemingly tried to have it both ways—to accept the donations that have poured in as the right rallies around him and to accept Carlson’s offer to “memorialize” his story, while at the same time insisting that there’s really nothing political about this, and if there is, it’s because of all those other people. This is, of course, a luxury—to decide what is and isn’t politics. It’s one that Joseph Rosenbaum and Anthony Huber—the men Rittenhouse killed—don’t have.

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